In Lijiang, the sign outside your hostel
glares: Ride alone, ride alone, ride
alone – it taunts you for the mileage
of your solitude, must be past
thousands, for you rode this plane
alone, this train alone, you’ll ride
this bus alone well into the summer night,
well into the next hamlet, town,
city, the next century, as the trees twitch
and the clouds wane and the tides
quiver and the galaxies tilt and the sun
spins us another lonely cycle, you’ll
wonder if this compass will ever change.
The sun doesn’t need more heat,
so why should you? The trees don’t need
to be close, so why should you?
Sally Wen Mao
the texture of life changes
Flying over Afghanistan (September, 2016)
Self Reflecting as a fortuneteller (according to my husband) on the tram in Sarajevo
For I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me. With every acquaintance I make, the population of phantoms resembling me increases. Somewhere they live, somewhere they multiply. I alone do not exist. Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye
In December 2009 I finally managed to finish my PhD. In January 2010, as a reward, I took myself to Zambia because I have always been fascinated by Dr. Livingstone.
I am not a particularly brave person, I’m actually quite shy and insecure most of the times.
But I do believe in forcing myself to do everything that terrifies me.
The fear of the empty space, most times understood as “ridiculous to the excess”.
Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels. Francisco Goya
Historically understood as an expression of Catholic Anti-Reformation propaganda, Baroque art is normally understood as lacking the reason and discipline associated with neoclassicism and the sophistication of more refined mannerism styles. In the 17th century, Baroque emerges in Europe as an extravagant, impetuous reaction against religious wars, the Reformation and the Counter Reformation, The 30 Years War, economic crisis and other ills and plagues form its historical backdrop. Going beyond the balanced and orderly representation of the world, it is an aesthetic of distortion, deception, complexity, and over-elaboration: the novel inside the novel (Don Quijote [1605 and 1615]), theater inside the theater (Hamlet [c1601]), the painting inside the painting (Velázquez’s Las Meninas  ), mirrors inside mirrors, etc. An emotional response to emptiness and disenchantement.
Leonardo da Vinci’s simplicity as the ultimate sophistication has become the norm in a society overwhelmed my the amount of visual information and material possessions that seem to clutter our minds and dominate our living spaces The claustrophobic in me has tried often times to convert to the minimalist / sophisticated imperative with no success. The maximalist in me can’t resist the emotional drama, radical spirit and aesthetic vertigo of the horror vacui.
Photos (mine) San Nicolás Church in Valencia, Spain, A Gothic structure invaded by Baroque extravaganza.
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded and loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems
Sometimes you don’t need to go anywhere to travel
One of the most fascinating things about selling online is imagining the places where the people that have bought my clothes live and what kind of story is the one they are writing for themselves. I do not stalk my clients and actually have no idea of who they are apart from their name and address. In my mind what could or should be a simple commercial transaction, it’s like making a new friend. After all, someone is going to receive a little paragraph of my personal story.
Last week I sold my Versace Jeans “commedia dell’arte” shirt, it was part of my loud, take it all in, coming of age in the 1990s. It should, by now, have arrived in Apache Junction, Arizona. A full week of obsessing about this new wonderful name, of trying to picture what it must be like to live in this geometric promise in the shape of a city nested at the base of a Mountain called Superstition. For someone living in a small country, in a city where houses seem to support each other so they don’t collapse, the allure of the vast and harsh American West exerts all kinds of dreams of freedom by the way of shedding all constraints of a somewhat constrained life in a place that sometimes feels like a small box rather than a city.
The simple act of wrapping a shirt, getting it ready to be posted has triggered all these images of free space where the sky is as close to you as the ground beneath your feet, it has made me imagine what it would be like to drive down Superstition Boulevard and end up somehow at the Barleens Arizona Opry. My commedia dell’arte shirt is having a new life on a stage that in my mid is as grand and dramatic as it deserves.
I told this story to a friend and she said that it must a be sign of where I need to go next…
1- Elvis memorial chapel
2- shirt detail: mine
3- Superstition Mtn. (public domain) 1970s
DeGrazia Foundation, Reggie Russell, Buehman, Dick Frontain, Thomas Galvin
4- Welcome to Silly park by Xnatedawgx
When I was a kid I wanted to be an archeologist. Because of this I spent hours improvising excavation sites with sofa cushions in my father’s office and fantasizing about going to Egypt, while my apparent natural vocation was nurtured by history books I was not old enough to understand. I did not become some sort of post modern female Indiana Jones (Lara Croft had not been created) but finally made it to Egypt for work (totally unrelated to my childhood fantasies) in 2008.
I was in Alexandria for a conference for four days feeling as excited as the kid who had fantasies of breakthrough discoveries that would forever alter the understanding of history. I did discover a common history and felt small, humbled, ecstatic and privileged for having the opportunity to walk to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina every day, to wander inside, to imagine how the Ancient Library of Alexandria might have looked, to stare in awe at full reading rooms and the bookcases still longing to be filled.
Apart form a small bronze Egyptian cat statue, this was my only souvenir, I don’t even know what happened to the photos I took (I do tend to loose digital photos) but when I found this caftan yesterday, I’ve realized I don’t actually need the photos, I can still feel the incessant wind and the warmth and the blue, I can still remember talking to three small kids who wanted to have friends in different parts of the world. Better than a photo and it sure beats a magnet.
Last time I was in Johannesburg I met Rosemary at her vintage shop in Melville. I remember thinking that hers was the life I would have wanted for myself in the way we think of the lives of those who seem to be bigger than their own context. This very special Lady also made me feel like a “movie star”, as special Ladies tend to, regardless of who you are. Because of my two visits toReminiscence that year, I finally managed to open my little virtual vintage corner on Etsy and I’ve called it dreaming of Melville. It was my attempt at taming my vintage closet and living that life.
Being somewhat of an academic almost by birth / education / unavoidability, the temptation to think about what an ever growing closet means in terms of personal history/identity was too strong and the Closet of Errors was born, keeping dreaming of Melville as the name of the collection representing my imagined life.
photo via SA Venues
Describe your personal style: I’ve watched way too many movies
Zambia. 2009. Celebrating finishing (finally) my PhD.
One of my Gaultier shirts has found a new home in New York. I guess it will be living where it’s supposed to. I all be going in two weeks. Not staying, though.